Five NGOs and the Kitui government are promoting clean and renewable energy.
The Inpower initiative is a collaboration of the county government, Netfund, Caritas Kitui, Groots Kenya and Cafod Kenya. It was launched at Migwani trading centre on Friday.
Kitui environment executive John Makau said the drive will make use of clean and sustainable energy a priority for Kitui.
Makau said residents are being encouraged to use locally available materials to produce smokeless briquettes for cooking. The solar energy is to be used for lighting homes.
A briquette is a compressed block of coal dust or other combustible biomass material such as charcoal, sawdust, wood chips, or paper used for fuel and kindling to start a fire. Non-wood charcoal briquettes directly help to increase biodiversity of the forest by placing a value on maintaining the habitat rather than felling trees.
Makau said Kitui county had been honoured to pilot the Inpower drive and urged residents to support it.
He said it is not only healthy, but also cost effective as it uses locally available raw materials such as refuse and biomass. “This is an initiative that every household in Kitui could afford to take up and thus have very healthy families as use of solar energy and these charcoal briquettes have no health hazards,” he said.
Inpower coordinator George Mwangala said Kitui was picked to pioneer the project because it has sun all year. The county government also is friendly and has imposed a ban on harmful charcoal production and transport.
He said after the Kitui pilot programme, a nationwide awareness campaign will be rolled out. “In Kitui, our campaign will build capacity of county officers and mobilise communities lacking sustainable and affordable energy,” Mwangala said.
He said the cost of electricity is out of reach for most households.
Burning charcoal fuel hurts both human health and the enviornment. Kerosene is too expensive for most Kenyans.
“We are promoting and saying we have free solar that we have been provided by God, we have briquette materials, we have biogas — and those are the resources we are using to further our campaign,” Mwangala said.
He said the initiative will translate to people living healthier, having more money in their pockets and having affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.
“People will access clean energy, hence, the campaign that will eventually be taken to all parts of Kenya,” Mwangala said.